Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at a Schauer for Governor and Peters for Senate Rally in Detroit, Michigan

October 10, 2014

MRS. OBAMA: Are we fired up? (Applause.) It sounds like we are so fired up. Thank you all so much. Oh, my goodness. I am here in Michigan! (Applause.) I am here in Detroit, and I am thrilled to be here to support the next Senator and Governor of the great state of Michigan -- our friends, Gary Peters and Mark Schauer! (Applause.) And I just love that you all are here. We're going to get it done.

Now, let me just tell you, there are so many reasons why I'm proud to be here today for Gary and Mark, but it really boils down to one fundamental truth: that Gary and Mark -- I have seen and I have heard as I have listened to what they say, and I have met them -- that they understand what Michigan families are going through, and they are going to be on your side every single day out in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.

Because Mark and Gary know what they're talking about. They are both the sons of fathers who were teachers and mothers who were a nurse and a nurse's aide. And they both worked their way through college. They did it by pumping gas, flipping burgers, putting in long hours at local retailers. They did it the hard way.

So Gary and Mark know what it means to stretch a paycheck. They know what it's like to really work for what you have. And they understand values like fairness, and integrity, and service, because those are the values they were raised with, and those are the values that have driven their careers.

See, when times were tough here in the state of Michigan, Mark ran an organization serving kids and seniors and helping unemployed workers get back on their feet, and he spent years in city and state government, working tirelessly to keep jobs here in the state of Michigan.

As for Gary, his career in business focused on helping families save up for college, to plan for retirement, and he proudly served, as he told you, our country in the Navy Reserve, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

And for the past six years in Congress, Gary and Mark, they have been leading the charge to raise the minimum wage, to help women get equal pay for equal work -- (applause) -- to ensure that folks across this country have the quality, affordable health care they deserve.

So make no mistake about it: Gary and Mark, they get it. They know the American Dream because they've lived it. And they're in this race for the right reasons -- because they want everyone in this state to have that same opportunity.

So, Michigan, if you want a Senator and a Governor who share your values and will be there for your families, then you got to vote for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer on November the 4th. You've got to do it. (Applause.) You have got to do it. That's why I'm here. That is why I'm here! It is so important.

Now, before I really go in, I also want to take a moment to recognize some of the outstanding Michigan leaders who are joining us today. We have our Senator, Debbie Stabenow. (Applause.) Yes, indeed. We have our wonderful Representatives -- John Conyers, Sandy Levin and Dan Kildee. (Applause.)

We've also got one of -- the one and only Representative, John Dingell. (Applause.) We are so grateful for his tremendous service, and we will miss him out in Washington, but we can't wait to elect his wife, Debbie, as the next Representative Dingle from the state of Michigan. (Applause.)

We also have Brenda Lawrence who will be an outstanding Congresswoman for the 14th District. And, of course, Mayor Duggan, who will be an outstanding mayor for the great state and -- city, I'm sorry, of Detroit. So let's give them all a round of applause. (Applause.) I'm grateful that you all are here. I'm grateful for your service, what you're doing for this state and for this city.

But while I'm thanking people, let me most of all thank all of you, because I know we have so many -- I can't see everybody's face, but I know we have old friends here today. We've got some new friends. But we've got folks who have been with us from the very beginning. (Applause.) From the beginning -- back when we were out in Iowa, New Hampshire, talking about hope and change, and getting fired up and ready to go. You all remember that?


MRS. OBAMA: You were there with us when Barack first took office. Remember that cold inauguration? We had a couple of those. But that first one, when Barack went into office and took a good look at the mess he'd been handed, and wondered what on Earth he had gotten himself into.

Let me just take you back for a moment. See, because people have a tendency to forget how bad things were. But let me just help you remember.

Back when Barack first took office, we were in full-blown crisis mode. Our economy was literally on the brink of collapse. Wall Street banks were folding. Businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month. You hear me? As you all know, our auto industry was in crisis. Folks, the pundits and prognosticators were panicked about whether we were headed for another Great Depression. Do you hear me? And that wasn't just talk, that was a real possibility. I could go on and on. Things were bad. This is what Barack walked into on day one as President of the United States.

Now, let's come back to the present and look at where we are today, less than six years later, after Barack Obama, my husband, has been President of the United States. (Applause.)

By almost every economic measure, we are better off today than when Barack took office. Now, let me give you some facts. Because while I've loved my husband, I want to be objective, because I'm still a citizen, so I care. So here are some facts: Our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010; this is the longest uninterrupted run of private-sector job growth in our nation's history. (Applause.) Did you hear me? The unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to today, at 5.9 percent.

And while there were plenty of folks in Washington who said we should let the auto industry go under, your President didn't listen. Gary Peters and Mark Schauer, they didn't listen. They refused to walk away from workers here in Michigan. Instead, they bet on American car companies -- the companies that have defined this city and this state for decades.

And since 2009, these companies have emerged from bankruptcy to create nearly half a million jobs, the strongest auto industry growth since the 1990s. (Applause.) In addition to all of that, today our high school graduation rate is at a record high in this country. More of our young people are graduating from college than ever before. And because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans finally have health insurance. (Applause.)

And I want you to just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today. Think about how our kids take for granted that a black person or a woman, or anyone who wants to, can be President of the United States of America. (Applause.) They take for granted that their President will end hurtful policies like "don't ask, don't tell" and speak out for equality for all Americans. (Applause.)

So, Michigan, while we still have plenty of work to do, we have truly made so much of that change we were talking about. But this is what I want you all to remember: Barack didn't do all that just sitting alone in the Oval Office. He did it with the help of leaders across this country who are fighting every day to build good schools for our kids, to get fair wages for our families, to create good jobs here at home instead of shipping them overseas. That's the kind of leadership folks here in Michigan deserve. And that's why we need to elect Gary Peters and Mark Schauer on November the 4th. They will fight for you. They are going to fight for you, and they're going to have your President's back. (Applause.)

Now, we know that winning these elections won't be easy. We know that there is too much money in politics. We know that. Special interests have too much influence. But this is what I want you to understand -- they had plenty of money and influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections. (Applause.)

You want to know why we won? We won because we showed up and we voted. (Applause.) That's why we won. Because and at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, putting all those negative ads, pouring millions of dollars into those elections –- they each have just one vote, and so do each of us.

And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes. That's what decides elections in this country. And that is why Barack Obama is President right now. (Applause.) He's President because a whole bunch of folks who never voted before showed up to vote in 2008 and 2012. (Applause.)

And a lot of people were shocked when Barack won. You remember that? They were shocked. (Applause.) Because they were counting on folks like us to stay home. But we proved them wrong. Barack won because record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up and voted. It was you all. It was all on you. (Applause.)

See, but here's what happens -- when the midterms come along, too many of our people are just tuned out. And that's what folks on the other side are counting on this year, because when we stay home, they win. So they're assuming that we won't care. They are hoping that we won't be organized and energized. They are praying we just sit around and wait for somebody else to fix our problems. And only we can prove them wrong.

Make no mistake about it, this race is going to be tight. We know that races like this can be won or lost by just a few thousand, even a few hundred votes.

I want you to think back to what happened in the 2012 presidential election here in Michigan. The outcome of that race was decided by about 225,000 votes. And while that might sound like a lot, when you break that number down, that's just 46 votes per precinct. Do you hear me? Forty-six votes -- and that's for a presidential election. So the numbers are much smaller and much more impactful in a local race.

So that's what I want people to understand, that their vote matters. Every single vote matters. So if all of us here today really get to work, we could swing precincts across this state for Gary and for Mark. In this room alone, you think about 46 people -- you know 46 people who didn't vote. (Laughter.) You know them. And you know them pretty well, don't you?


MRS. OBAMA: So let's be clear: This one is on us. We can't look to anybody else, we don't even need anybody else. This is on us.

We can't wait around for anyone else to do this. And we need you all out there, all of you out every day -- no, every day. No, really, every day -- (laughter) -- between now and November the 4th, as Gary said, knocking on doors, doing the ground work. You guys know what this looks like. You've done it before, making calls, getting everyone you know out to vote for Gary and for Mark.

And you can start right now. If you're not already involved you can sign up to volunteer by going to MichiganDems.com/victory -- MichiganDems.com/victory. (Applause.) So for all you techie people, you can do it online. For those of you who are not, you can sign up right now. There are folks with the clipboards, and they'll connect you with the nearest campaign office.

And then, on November the 4th, make sure everyone you know gets out to vote. It's the power of multiplying here. I mean, if you feel the energy in this room, you feel the energy. If you take this energy and you each find 10, 20 other people who are just as energized, we can do this.

So you have to go out and you have to bring folks with you. Bring your families, and your neighbors, your church folks -– don't leave anyone behind. And you got to start reaching out today. Today. Tell them that we've got less than a month until Election Day. And we all need to be as passionate and as hungry for this election as we were back in 2008 and 2012. (Applause.)

In fact, we need to be even more passionate and more hungry, because these races here in Michigan will be even harder, and even closer, than those presidential elections. And they're just as important.

The stakes this year simply could not be higher. Because if we don't get folks to show up at the polls this November, if we don't elect leaders like Gary and Mark, then we know exactly what will happen. We can't pretend like we don't know. We will see more folks interfering in women's private decisions about our health care. We'll see more opposition to immigration reform, to raising the minimum wage for hardworking folks here in this state.

So I want to be very clear: If you think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn't have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth, if you don't want women's bosses making decisions about our birth control, if you think women should get equal pay for equal work, if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you need to get everyone you know out to vote for Gary and for Mark. You need to do that.

That's what's at stake in this election -– the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and grandkids. So those kids are counting on us to stand up for them in this election. And we know these kids. We know these kids. They're kids like Lawrence Lawson, a young man I met earlier this year. Lawrence's father died when he was just eight years old. At the age of nine, Lawrence suffered a major seizure and had to learn to read and walk and speak again. When he was 12, his mother passed away. Lawrence was passed from his aunt in Atlanta to his sister in Baltimore. But no matter where he was, Lawrence always did his best in school. He joined the marching band. He interned at Johns Hopkins hospital. He graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class. (Applause.)

And as I travel across this country, I meet so many kids just like Lawrence. This story is not new. I meet the kids who wake up early and take the long route to school to avoid the gangs; kids who juggle afterschool jobs to support their families and stay up late to get their homework done. You know these kids. Kids whose parents don't speak a word of English but are fighting every day to realize their dream of a better life.

These kids have every reason to give up, but they are so hungry to succeed. They are so desperate to lift themselves up. See, what we have to remember is they are the reason we're here today. That's why I'm here. I don't know about you. I'm here for those kids who never give up, so neither can we. (Applause.) We can't give up on our kids. We can't give up on our kids. So between now and November, we need to be energized for them. We need to be inspired for them. We need to pour everything we have into this election so that they can have the opportunities they need to build the future they deserve.

And if we do this -- we can do this, Detroit. Detroit, you alone can change the nature of this election right here in this city. You can do it. (Applause.)

So I know we can do this. I have seen it before. I have seen it in the eyes of the people who have supported me and Barack. If we keep on stepping up and bringing others along with us, I know that we can keep on making that change we believe in. I know we can elect Gary Peters to the Senate. I know we can elect Mark Schauer as your next governor. And together, we can build a future worthy of all our children.

Thank you so much. God bless.

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at a Schauer for Governor and Peters for Senate Rally in Detroit, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/321916

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